That Pan-Fried Chow Mein Flavored Air

Jack Kerouac Alley in San Francisco
A passage about the food of San Francisco from Jack Kerouac's On the Road. The bit about the menus being "soft with foody esculence" has haunted me for years.

I smelled all the food of San Francisco. There were seafood places out there where the buns were hot, and the baskets were good enough to eat too; where the menus themselves were soft with foody esculence as if dipped in hot broths and roasted dry and good enough to eat too.
Just show me the bluefish spangle on a seafood menu and I'd eat it; let me smell the drawn butter and lobster claws. There were places where they specialized in thick red roast beef au jus, or roast chicken basted in wine. There were places where hamburgs* sizzled on grills and the coffee was only a nickel.
And oh, that pan-fried chow mein flavored air that blew into my room from Chinatown, vying with the spaghetti sauces of North Beach, the soft-shell crab of Fisherman's Wharf — nay, the ribs of Fillmore turning on spits! 
Throw in the Market Street chili beans, redhot, and french-fried potatoes of the Embarcadero wino night, and steamed clams from Sausalito across the bay, and that's my ah-dream of San Francisco.
'On the Road' | Jack Kerouac

The Kerouac Diner (Menu and Recipes)
Eat the Menu
Laurie Anderson's TV Lunch

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